Tips to Reduce Overhead and Grow Your Practice
I’ve seen what out-of-control overhead costs can do to a practice. Dentists and team members start to feel overwhelmed, burned out and frustrated, and even begin to lose their passion for dentistry. They forget why they became dentists in the first place and only focus on their financial troubles – which of course leads to more stress and problems for the practice.
If you’re dealing with skyrocketing overhead costs, you understand how stressful it can be. That’s why I want to put an end to it. Overhead costs shouldn’t dictate your every move and keep you from investing in your office. I want to help you reduce your overhead costs and grow your practice. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
1. Implement a perio program in your hygiene department. This is a great way to increase production and reduce overhead costs, yet few hygiene departments offer it. They’re afraid patients might react negatively, but I’m here to tell you that doesn’t matter. It is the hygienist’s responsibility to tell patients about the presence of periodontal disease and then educate them about treatment options. Implementing a perio program will not only ensure patients receive the care they need, it will also help increase production and reduce overhead costs.
There are many different ways you can go about implementing a perio program in your practice, but I recommend starting at the front desk. Tell employees to mention the program to patients when they check in. They should also hand out educational brochures and ask patients to fill out a questionnaire as they wait to see the doctor. Their responses will tell you what symptoms they’re experiencing, which will make it easy for you to start a conversation chairside.
No matter how you implement the program, once you do, you’ll notice an increase in production and a decrease in overhead.
2. Focus on recall. The recall system represents one of the best ways to generate money in a practice, yet most dentists ignore it. They think it’s enough to send generic postcards to recall patients and ask hygienists to make a few phone calls when they have time. Trust me, it’s not.
If you really want to re-energize your recall system and get more patients in the chair (which will help lower those overhead costs), I suggest you empower your Patient Coordinator to take charge of the recall system. Task this team member with calling a certain number of past due patients every day and getting those patients on the schedule. This person should be armed with a well-written script and prepared to educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health and going forward with necessary treatment. Make recall a priority in your practice and you’ll see more patients chairside.
3. Consider implementing hybrid scheduling. Cancellations and no-shows not only wreak havoc on your day and cause extra stress, they also cost you money. If you find yourself dealing with broken appointments more often than you care to admit, part of the problem could stem from pre-appointing. Just because a patient schedules an appointment on a Tuesday six months from now doesn’t mean that patient will show up. In fact, there’s a good chance he or she won’t, leaving you with last-minute holes to fill.
I know most dentists like to pre-appoint patients, so instead of giving it up all together I suggest developing a hybrid system. If there are certain patients who are known for cancelling at the last minute or simply not showing up at all, flag those patients and only schedule them a few weeks out. Let them know you’ll contact them when an appointment is available. They’ll have a much better idea of what their schedule will be, making them less likely to have a conflict that causes them to miss the appointment.
4. Give employees the direction they crave. Your team members look to you for guidance in the form of training, job descriptions and continual feedback. They’ll flourish when they receive it, making them more efficient and productive – and that helps reduce overhead costs.
Dealing with high overhead costs can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right guidance, you can take back control of your practice and finally start reaching your goals.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
Standard of Care
You may have been practicing for years, or you may be a new graduate. Whether you are a dentist or a hygienist, it is up to you to determine what level of care you are going to provide patients with. I would like to think you want to provide the standard of care you were taught in college in order to get an “A”. I know I want my health care providers to treat me as if they want an excellent grade, rather than just be concerned with the money they can make!
As a dentist, the standard and quality of care you provide to your patients can determine if a patient stays with your practice or decides to go elsewhere to seek treatment. This also applies to the quality of care your hygiene department provides to patients. In addition, it is crucial to make sure appointments allow enough time to finish treatment.
This is important for many reasons. If there is not enough time allowed to complete treatment, the quality of work may decline in your practice. Patients will notice if you or your hygienists appear to be rushing to get things done. It is best that your team stay on schedule so patients are not left waiting in the reception room. Some patients may even walk out if forced to wait too long.
When there is too much to be done in the time allotted, your team will become more stressed and it may also create a cold climate in your practice. This can result in employee loss, as too much stress creates a toxic work environment – leading to not only hygienists leaving the practice, but other staff members too.
Don’t think patients won’t notice how much and how often there is staff turnover in your practice. Patients are much more observant about the running of your practice than you may realize, and will notice when the stress level is higher than normal the minute they walk into the door. People don’t like going to the dentist as it is, and they definitely won’t rush to a dental office that is extremely stressful for the staff.
Of course, you no longer need to spend the amount of time it took you in college to prepare a crown or do four quadrants of root planing. However, it is still important to allow enough time in the schedule for all of the procedures being completed that day. This is true for the doctor as well as the hygiene schedules. Squeezing patients in makes for an overstressed doctor and team.
Taking a couple more minutes in the schedule can make all the difference between loving dentistry, your team and your patients, or possibly hating a job for a long time to come. The decisions you make may have consequences that last much longer than just the time you spend actually providing care to your patients.
Make a decision regarding how you want to practice dentistry, and stand by it. If you work in an office that is not allowing you to provide the care you want for your patients, it may be a good decision to move to another practice. This is not only for you, but for the patients you take care of.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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